National Motor Vehicle Brochure (1917)
This isn't a book, but it is special enough I wanted to cull it out from the larger classifications of articles on firstsuperspeedway.com. Neither is it an article, but a sales brochure from the National Motor Vehilce Company for 1917. Speedway founder Arthur C. Newby helped found the Indianapolis based automobile manufacturer in 1900. Newby, who endured chronic health problems throughout his life, had already left the firm in 1916.
The entire brochure is interesting but I found its greatest significance to be its front cover and a reference to it in the text. The front cover depicts the setting on a chilly November night in 1905 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds horse track oval. Look carefully and you will see four figures around a bonfire. These represent the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in what the brochure purports to be the first substatntive discussion between the four men about the need for a giant speedway for automobile manufacturers to test their cars.
Also note the cars circulating the oval in the background and the little dots of light affixed to the fence posts. These dots of light represent the Prest-O-Lite headlamps that Carl Fisher and James Allison donated to provide illumination while the cars pursued a new world record for distance covered in 24 hours. Fisher and Newby had jointly dreamed up this promotion to call attention to National Cars - which were sold in Fisher's dealership. The exposure for Prest-O-Lite products had to be useful as well. While I have found no other source to corroborate the story about this being the seminal moment for the conceptualization of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it is plausible and other documents exist that the issue was on Carl Fisher's mind at that time.
While one of Newby's Nationals was wrecked when a tire blew, the other survived to set a new world 24 hour distance record. The drivers were "Jap" Clemmens and Charlie Merz. Only 17 years old at the time, Merz later competed in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, served as the chief steward of the Indianapolis 500 and founded his own engineering company.
|National Motor Vehicle Brochure - 1917.pdf||5.74 MB|